The third edition of the partnership summit being held in Visakhapatnam had seen the State government signing MoUs for investments worth Rs 2,18,814 crore. With one more day to go, the State government is anticipating a total investment of Rs 10 lakh crore with employment opportunities for 20 lakh people.
In the last two sessions of the partnership summit held in 2016 and 2017, the State government claimed to have signed MoUs for investment worth Rs 13 lakh crore. This year’s target of Rs 10 lakh crore is a big success for any State in the country in attracting investments. Getting anything around Rs 20 lakh crore investments in just nine days spread over three years is something to feel proud of and said to be a victory of the government and the man heading it.
Looking at these claims of the government on investments, BJP AP unit president Kambhampati Haribabu, had raised a valid question. “When the State is getting such a huge amount of investments from private investors, where is the need for special category status?”. Haribabu is not the one who raised this question. A few weeks ago, NITI Aayog vice-chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar, an economist, had raised the same question. He quoted the State’s growth rate, which was projected at 14.2 per cent as against the national growth rate of 7.2 per cent and said where was the need for the Centre to give a hand-holding to the State. He went on to say that taking the growth rate of the State, Andhra Pradesh can lend hand-holding to several other States around.
Haribabu’s question on the need for SCS may be a political one but Dr Rajiv Kumar’s statement is not political. It is purely economics. Not just Dr Rajiv Kumar, any economist or an expert of government affairs, would say the same and raise the same questions. When the State is growing at a faster rate with a huge amount of investments flowing around, where is the need for the Union government to lend a helping hand in any form?
Moreover, AP is ahead of the country and all other States in terms of realisation of the MoUs. While the national rate is 7 per cent to 15 per cent, it is 38 per cent to 40 per cent in Andhra Pradesh. This means, in converting the MoUs into reality, AP is ahead of all the States and even the country.
The SCS or any form of hand-holding is given to the States by the Centre when they are economically backward and have no or less sources of development. When the State was bifurcated, those at the helm saw revenue deficit to the State and would require a lot of infrastructure to be created for its future. The loss of Hyderabad was seen as a potential disadvantage to the State and hand-holding in the form of SCS was promised.
But four years after bifurcation, the State had grown double the national growth rate and had roped in a few thousand crore of rupees investment. Given the statistics on its growth rate and the investments mobilised, Andhra Pradesh can play the pivotal role in extending a help States like Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, which are considered backward economically and even infrastructure wise.
Being ahead of several States and even the nation itself, the State cannot cry foul of injustice done by the Centre. What a government with an average growth rate of 7.2 per cent is expected to lend hand-holding to a government with a growth rate of 14.2 per cent and its investments claims running into a few lakh crore of rupees?! That way, both politically and economically, BJP leader Haribabu’s question is valid and should be answered by the BJP’s critics.